What do you really really want
What do you really really wanna do?
As designers, we deal with innovations on a daily basis and therefore also with how and where we keep finding new ideas. We let ourselves be inspired by our environment, people, conditions, nature.
Therefore, for us, work has never been the simple definition of labor multiplied by working time, which is common in the economic field. We understand work more like one of the numerous other definitions: as a goal-oriented, social, planned and conscious, physical and mental activity, as a process of human interaction with nature and no longer for the immediate purpose of securing livelihood or self-preservation.
We want to make the world a little better, lighter and more pleasant with our ideas, products and services. The idea of New Work is also exciting for us because it is an innovation that is explained and brought closer to people at this stage and whose meaning, necessity and possible applications have to be demonstrated before it is accepted, implemented and implemented by the masses is no longer an innovation.
A kicker doesn't bring new work
New Work is one of the buzzwords that is circulating that is filled with content differently by every company and every individual employee. Usually it is all about improving working conditions. But home office, flexible working hours, a new management culture, a table football or a fruit basket are by no means the core of New Work. It is therefore worth going back to the beginnings of this movement and classifying developments from there.
A social utopia from the 80s
Frithjof Bergmann, an American philosopher who was born in 1930, finally formulated his idea of New Work in the 1980s after working in various odd jobs, studying philosophy and teaching at various universities in America. This includes three main pillars, which to this day seem almost too radical to have any chance of being implemented in their entirety. His aim is to reduce wage labor, promote high-tech self-sufficiency and pursue a professional vision.
Today's discussions, however, often focus solely on the last point. Questions are asked about decent, meaningful work and about the optimal development of work-related skills. At the same time, it is about setting up organizations in a modern way, thinking about what a just, effective, moderately capitalist working society could look like and how all this can be achieved.
So Bergmann is concerned with much more than isolated measures, it is about the whole. People should be rethought at work. It's not about finding a job that is fun because fun is anything. It's about finding out who you are, what you really, really want to do, and how you want to live.
Three main pillars become five principles
Today we are confronted with the changes in the world of work caused by digitization. The value chains change, as do the values and expectations of employees and managers. At the same time, the markets are also in a state of flux that is shortening production cycles, creating complex relationships, making planning impossible and requiring new ways of thinking. Markus Väth took this as an opportunity to relate Bergmann's social utopia to the economy. It focuses on five principles that are reflected in everyday business life: freedom, personal responsibility, meaning, development and social responsibility.
He explains that you have to actively deal with new ideas and topics. To do this, new methods of cooperation, new architectural concepts, new management models and production processes must be tried out. Making mistakes is expressly allowed. In addition, self-organization and self-regulation should be encouraged and employees should be involved in the company's success.
He also takes up the question of meaning: Employees are deployed and promoted according to their strengths and needs. Questions about the meaning of the work and the why question are asked. So that urgently needed innovations can arise, the creative abilities of the employees are specifically promoted. They should learn from each other and develop personally in this way. They should test and discard, reflect on themselves and keep improving. In all of this, the environment with its natural resources and the protection of these should never be lost sight of. Commitment to society, science, technology and culture also outside the company are encouraged.
In whatever way, every company has to find its own way. There is no right or wrong. However, the origins and explanations show that it is significantly more than just improving certain working conditions. And we already know and feel it clearly: The New Work innovation must be promoted because the old working world will soon no longer exist in this form due to the new demands of customers and employees.
Markus Väth, work - the most beautiful thing in the world. How New Work is revolutionizing our working world. (Offenbach, 2016)
Frithjof Bergmann: New work, new culture. (Freiburg 2004)
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